Source: Council on Foreign Relations

As the campaigns to wrest the Islamic State from the territory it held in Iraq and Syria near completion, new conflicts may arise if old political arrangements prevail.

The self-proclaimed Islamic State, once estimated to have occupied a third of Iraqi and Syrian territory, has been reduced to a handful of enclaves, bringing a complicated endgame into focus. In July 2017, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory in Mosul, as his troops, with U.S. backing, recaptured Iraq’s second city. In Syria, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) recaptured the Islamic State’s self-styled capital of Raqqa in October, and the SDF and forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad are both closing in on the Islamic State in its final eastern redoubt.

The rapidly receding footprint of the Islamic State has raised the risks for new confrontations as various armed groups in Iraq and Syria, and in some cases their foreign backers, vie for influence in the newly liberated areas. Meanwhile, experts warn that if the victors in both countries fail to make political arrangements that accommodate civilians and facilitate the return of refugees, the hard-fought military campaigns may only lay the groundwork for future cycles of insurgency and counterinsurgency. The following is a sketch of security, displacement, and reconstruction concerns in both countries.  READ MORE…

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